Man suspected of planning attack on anti-pope protest

16th August 2011, Comments 0 comments

Spanish police said Tuesday they had arrested a foreign student suspected of planning to use asphyxiating chemicals to attack a protest march against a visit by Pope Benedict XVI.

Police said they had seized a laptop, portable memory, and two notebooks containing notes about chemicals not on the student's course. But they made no mention of chemicals or equipment being taken.

They declined to give the man's nationality.

"The arrested man is the suspected author of planning for an attack with asphyxiating gases and other chemical substances against participants in protests against the visit of His Holiness Benedict XVI," police said in a statement.

According to the daily El Pais, the arrested man was a Mexican in Spain on a student visa.

The paper said the police had no proof that the suspect was capable of carrying out an attack but wanted to avoid even the chance of a failed attack that might panic people.

It said police were tipped of by people who found the man's comments on Internet forums in which the student said that attacks on the pope were unacceptable.

The man studied at the Spanish Research Council's organic chemistry institute, police said.

More than 100 groups that oppose the pope's visit plan to protest Wednesday on the eve of his arrival. They include groups representing gays and lesbians, feminists as well as leftist political parties.

Many of those in the country's 15-M "indignant" movement -- launched on May 15 against the management of the economic crisis, soaring unemployment and political corruption -- are also taking part.

© 2011 AFP

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